After President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law, the Filipino citizens and lawmakers have opposing reactions. Now, some blogs are claiming that Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno ordered the Mindanao courts to “disobey” the President’s martial law proclamation.
The story has been shared thousands of times after it was posted by Facebook pages such as “FilipiNews PH,” “Kilusang Bagong Lipunan,” “Duterte Administration,” and “President Rodrigo “Rody” Roa Duterte Supporters,” among other pages.
According to the most shared article from trendingtopicsph.com, Sereno instructed Mindanao courts on May 24 to stay open even after President Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao due to the presence of terrorists in the islands. They cited their source as the GMA News article, “Sereno orders Mindanao courts to remain open following martial law declaration.”
The GMA News report showed that the Supreme Court Public Information Office released a statement about Sereno’s orders to the courts in Mindanao, saying, “[T]he Chief Justice directs all courts in Mindanao to remain open and all judges to remain in station, as far as their local circumstances may allow.”
She also reportedly asked Mindanao judges to give updates about their “current and continuing status” to the Office of the Court of Administration channeled through the executive judges.
This is what the blogs being shared by pro-Duterte and pro-Marcos support pages on Facebook have been claiming as Sereno’s order to disobey the President’s martial law declaration.
However, Facebook user Alyce C. Fernandez-Banzon refuted that assumption. She defined what martial law is NOT as per the 1987 Philippine Constitution, according to Section 18 of Article 7.
“A state of martial law:
– does not suspend the operation of the Constitution
– does not supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies
– does not authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function
– does not automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Said suspension shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in ir directly connected with invasion.”
Fernandez-Banzon said that as per this definition, she couldn’t understand just why Duterte’s supporters slammed Sereno for allegedly not following Duterte’s order.
“Note also SC Chief Justice Sereno’s first act which was to order ALL courts in Mindanao to remain OPEN at all times, as mandated by the Constitution,” she said.
“That’s why I cannot understand the effort taken by the President’s supporters to bash the CJ for this order, to the point of accusing her of “disobeying” the President. Say what? Isn’t she just doing her job? Disturbing how some people do not think anymore before they speak,” she added.
As Rappler has noted in its article, “Martial Law 101: Things you should know,” the 1987 Philippine Constitution is unlike the previous constitutions as it specifies how martial law “cannot override the function of both the judiciary and legislative branches of the government.” Despite the President’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the courts can still function, which means that CJ Sereno is not disobeying Duterte at all when she ordered Mindanao courts to stay open.
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